(These words and thoughts are my own. I am not in any clerk position in our Yearly Meeting and do not speak for our Yearly Meeting. As a community, we have not discussed many of these ideas, but I offer them in hope that these words or some like it might be affirmed by the Yearly Meeting as a way forward.)
As Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, we have just completed our 122nd annual sessions. In our discussions and business this week we discerned that we are not in unity around a proposed revision to our Faith and Practice about human sexuality. What might be further said?
We are in unity and we affirm our love for persons who identify as LGBTQ (both in and out of NWYM).
We are in unity and we affirm that all people, including those who identify as LGBTQ, are made in God’s image and can hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, the Light within.
We are in unity and we affirm that sexual intimacy is a gift of God, both for procreation and to build and sustain bonds of mutual love and respect between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship.
Where Friends are in disagreement is in our understanding of God’s direction for how sexual intimacy should be practiced outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Some among us believe the Bible and the historic church clearly teach celibacy for those who are not in a heterosexual marriage. Some among us believe the Spirit’s leading and the Bible allow sexual intimacy to be practiced in a committed marriage, regardless of gender.
We acknowledge the extreme difficulty of a life of celibacy, and affirm that it is possible only through God’s sustaining power. We acknowledge the difficulty involved when a largely heterosexual group interprets God’s will for those in the sexual minority.
So as we wait for God’s Spirit to bring us to unity, we also wish to humble ourselves before God in confession and repentance.
We confess that in the past and the present, our words and actions have not always matched our professed love for persons who identify as LGBTQ. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness from those who have been hurt.
We confess that we have not always upheld the value of the person as we have condemned certain sexual behaviors. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness from those who have been hurt.
We confess that we have not always obeyed Jesus’ command to be like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We have walked on the other side of the road as LGBTQ persons have died of AIDS, been bullied, harassed, abused, murdered, and committed suicide. We repent of this, and we ask forgiveness.
Have mercy, Lord Jesus.